Saturday, March 10, 2012

Fallout from the Heartland Caper: Time Magazine Reports on the Escalation in the Climate Wars


"If there's anyone who knows how nasty the climate fight can be, it's Penn State climatologist Michael Mann. Mann, who has been involved with the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for over a decade, gets regular death threats at his office. He's been the target of a lengthy — and, critics say, politically motivated — investigation by the attorney general of Virginia. His private emails to colleagues have been hacked and published, and he's become a major public target for Heartland and like-minded groups."--Time (2-28-12)


On February 20, 2012, a renowned water expert named Dr. Peter Gleick admitted that he had tricked the Heartland Institute, a "charity" that spreads anti-scientific propaganda to confuse people about the science of climate change, into emailing him internal documents intended for board members. Gleick claims that he decided on this course of action in order to authenticate an anonymously-sent Heartland strategy memo he received in the mail. Gleick published his account of his caper in an article titled The Origin of the Heartland Documents (2-20-12). The documents are linked at Desmogblog (2-14-12).

When Heartland's Joe Bast claimed the strategy memo was a fake, DeSmogBlog's Richard Littlemore (2-16-12) responded:

The DeSmogBlog is committed to accuracy. Joe Bast says the document is a fake, a statement we take with a grain of salt given the Heartland Institute’s previous dissembling on the subject of climate change and its discredited position on the safety of second hand smoke.  In the circumstances, if the Heartland Institute can offer any specific criticism of the Climate Strategy or any evidence that it was faked and not, actually, written on Joe Bast’s laptop, printed out and scanned, we would be pleased to consider that evidence.

When the Heartland's lawyer demanded that DeSmogBlog remove the documents, Desmogblog (2-19-12) refused, and cited the Heartland's demands alongside their observations. DeSmogBlog doesn't sound scared to me.

So far, Dr. Gleick has not been charged with any crime, but his reputation is damaged. Some people are claiming that he fabricated the anonymous strategy memo he says he received in the mail. The FBI say they are looking into the matter; but so far, they are very non-commital.


On Valentine's Day, the same day that the Heartland documents were published on DeSmogBlog, a computer expert named John Mashey sent the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) documented allegations that Heartland and other climate change denialist organizations were violating their charitable status. I am only speculating, but I think that Heartland may be in more trouble than Dr. Gleick, although it seems to me that he should not have tricked the Heartland out of those documents. Time will tell; but at the moment it seems that Dr. Gleick gave his mendacious enemies, who are always claiming that scientists are dishonest, ammunition. I wish Dr. Gleick had not risked his career and had let Dr. Mashey's report make the case against the Heartland Institute. Still, when the government fails to investigate the activities of these fake charities, some scholars might decide to defend themselves---as well as ordinary teachers---from their vicious propaganda.


Bryan Walsh of  Time Magazine has published an excellent article about two "climate warriors," scientists Dr. Michael Mann and Dr. Peter Gleick. The article is titled A Climate Warrior Puts It All on the Line — Including His Life (2-28-12):


The climate war — the public opinion battle between skeptics of man-made global warming and those who believe in the scientific consensus — escalated to a new level of ferocity this past month. First a series of memos allegedly from the Heartland Institute — a libertarian think tank that has long supported climate skepticism — surfaced on the Internet, detailing the group's previously anonymous corporate funding and outlining its plan to fight action on global warming. Then came the news last week that the Heartland memos had been fraudulently acquired by the environmental advocate and scientist Peter Gleick, who — after allegedly being sent an initial memo by a person he identified as a Heartland insider — impersonated as a Heartland board member via email in order to obtain several additional internal documents. Worse, Heartland now claims one of the memos was doctored — while nonetheless confirming that it plans to push global warming skepticism in the nation's schools, opening up one more, very impressionable front in the seemingly endless climate war.


If there's anyone who knows how nasty the climate fight can be, it's Penn State climatologist Michael Mann. Mann, who has been involved with the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for over a decade, gets regular death threats at his office. He's been the target of a lengthy — and, critics say, politically motivated — investigation by the attorney general of Virginia. His private emails to colleagues have been hacked and published, and he's become a major public target for Heartland and like-minded groups. "I guess over the years I've experienced quite a few adventures," says Mann, who is about to publish book on his experiences, called The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines. "It's given me not just a solid understanding of the problem of man-made climate change, but also the campaign — largely funded by the fossil fuel industry — to deny that science." [See the full text.]

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